William D. (William Darrah) Kelley.

Speeches of Hon. William D. Kelley. Replies of the Hon. William D. Kelley to George Northrop, Esq., in the joint debate in the Fourth Congressional District online

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Online LibraryWilliam D. (William Darrah) KelleySpeeches of Hon. William D. Kelley. Replies of the Hon. William D. Kelley to George Northrop, Esq., in the joint debate in the Fourth Congressional District → online text (page 1 of 20)
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Reply of Hon. William D. Kelhy to George
Northrop, Esq.





discuss the questions, the principles nil , , °fn ^ and hear ««* representatives

political .machinery will certainly have been made Sn iu^ "nprovemem in our
be as 81 lent throughout the discussion as vou have been i° ,H ' °^ evci ? friend of mine will
I am quite sure that thus, who diffe? from me in opinion 1 ill" 1 " ""i ! PGech ? m have heard
M treatment with which the suggestions or tnei^^^

^n'b^ Party, with the first two propositions

by Jim, but mvited, to meet you and discuss tff issues o 'lUT^ , ' ^ '"" S ^ challenged

to do so fearlessly and in the spirit of a oatriot st ill y Wlth hlm " J sh::I1 endeavor

country and yours, the home of our prosperity ' " °"' V "' P r0mote the wel&w of my

have said, I accept this proposition 1^™ X ; Wd° ft ^ ? f "'«' States '' ^
tain. It controls the conduct of the members of I ! . - A u d "^ration »"" ' >"s-

however, to mark a single phrase not 1 ,, , i i ! ] • '" whlch ' belong. I wish vou
Petitor, which is utterl/inconsi t on? with thThi h , S*^' ^ <!w "" "1"'" b ? « ' - -
•• States." Sovereignty is upremacv Th^iST"* *- ' refer *° the phrase
which is sovereign governs and controls alwh ; , ''' Js sov ereign is supreme- that

t»ti».i of that Nation known , ?£ t.f V ;; r r i,,n " lrlil '"' Tl, ,'„ ,

supreme law of our whole land, and is now it^ s sunreme \tj» ?!, , """' J ' mmi into effe <*> the
American people on the battle-field to dL is wl 1 , III 7!'' ""•' ^ eal issue testi «g by the
as the supreme law of the land, or whether it Ihall be w ^f^™ shall be mafntained
Constitution be recognized as the JZm!i 'Tu trampled under foot, and each State

supreme law of that country or wli.-tl.,..- il. r * country and a Constitution which is the
^ the supreme I aw of the^a ndTs to b ml n ' Tr "'' ft l ' m "" 1 States is Wto words
ions o. thirty-five "Sovereign States" ," The fl £S ta ^ called ^e Constitul

^-t,:;: n'-Ztr^^i::: ! - ;;- -;:; ] -^ - ^o..:* ;^ h ;L:.rvn:. i ,v. l i.-v .:^ 1 :: -^ l ;; i i f ;-^uvA t ;-^

-| 5 S cS SSr^e&t 1 ^!^^^^ — - f »* "thai the onH-

eglbly as type or the human hand e n wdt c i i, ', ***** 77"'" T - because " «■ -rule,,

Now, my fellow-citizens, as mv comrSSnJ i Ian S«age oi the Constitution.
Witution i 8 the supreme kw of th TS w d \ ""'T' and as J™ a « agree, thai the
he inauguration of JameTBulanan^ itatS^V^ 1 " the 6Xteni of tha1 '^? On
ones. Among the States were Aonth c2 in S, ^a?^ °'" Cl ' rt!,in States ; ""' *«£
•londa. and IVxas. Amon- the Sta es wnrl ' ? e , 0r S la ' Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana

Iissour i North Carohna, Tennessee Clt t^T"' DelaWare > Kentuck 7 Mary and'
hese States and that r>i<t,; + ■ • M, r lnia : and there was the District nf c i n , i

-ies, made the ^toffS^Z^ ^ ft k Nort hern States li,',, ' i , '., . ' "rf
nnistration of James Bur la ,,, ti, ( °" stltutl0n was the supreme law. Sel durin™ the 13
upremacy over all the S a e S I h 'av 1? Ta ™ rSfW " ,a ' 1 " "' , • ,,,, tha( « ''« m

— try. On the eighth oTpebWv 1861 and t" ^^ °'' ° olumbia - the capital ofthe

— - - become President^ "eVurtVoT^

Constitution of the United States, a Confederacy, consisting- of South Carolina, Georgia,
Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, and 'Texas, was organized in the city of Mont-
gomery, in the Slate of Alabama; under articles known as the Constitution of the Confede-
rate States of America, and on the next day these who had organized ii proce< ded to elect
Jefferson Davis, of Mississippi, President of that Confederacy, and A. H. Stephens, of Georgia,
Vice-President. My distinguished friend has put a list of questions to me, which I shall
answer as I proceed. But 1 have to ask him to point me to the clause in the Constitution
which authorizes the amendment which proposes thus to restrict its supremacy to less than
half our country. Where in the scope of that instrument — by which one of its articles — by
what clause of that article — were those men authorized so to amend our Constitution that it
should not cover any one of the eight Stall's embraced in the Confederacy? But again in a
few days there appeared in council with the men who organized that Confederacy represent-
atives from Arkansas. Kentucky. Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia, and
they proposed to so further amend the supreme law of our country, that it should be no law
at all over nearly a million of square miles of that country ; and 1 again ask the gentlemen to
point me under his two first propositions, to the provision of the Constitution under which
those important amendments were made.

Whose country was it that these felonious conspirators undertook thus summarily to dis-
pose of? Our ancestors acquired part of it by the right of settlement. They came pilgrims
to an inhospitable coast. They made their homes among the savage Indians. They endured
the tempest-tossing of the Atlantic in the little barks, called ships at that day. and they dotted
the hard and rock-bound coast of that ocean from Plymouth Rock to Oglethorpe's community
in Georgia. They and their posterity, and others like themselves, escaping from the despot-
ism- of Europe, from poverty and want, came and settled this country. In the course of
years they reduced the wilderness, they built the village, the town, the city; they reared the
school-house, the church, the college ; they made roads into the wilderness and followed them
by settlements. They extended their boundaries and became a great people. When the
mother-country undertook to control them improperly, they went to war in vindication of
their rights, and during eight long years they sanctified that country to us by pouring out
their taxes, their blood, their lives, alike upon the hills of hated New England and the plains
of pestilent South Carolina. The sons of New England died everywhere in that war; and
here on the soil of our own great State the men of the South and of New England fought
together upon common territory belonging specially to neither. After eighl years of war,
and taxes, and death, liberty was achieved, and a Constitution framed, deliberately framed,
in our own city; it was submitted to the people of the States, and one alter another of those
States adopted it ; the Southern States, at least Georgia and South ( Jarolina, coming in among
the latest. It was, however, adopted by the people of all the States, and from that day it

remained the supreme law of those States and all the territory belonging to them, and all the
territory they might acquire. Subsequently to that, it was found that Spain held a province
that might be dangerous to our peace. The American people — not the people of the Southern
States— still less the people of that province or of the adjoining States alone, but the Ameri-
can people, acting by the United States Government, with money paid out of the common
treasure, bought Florida from Spain. The Emperor Napoleon held another territory, that
which in part bounded the Gulf, and held the key to the great arterial river of our
country, the Mississippi. While a foreign nation held the mouth of that river, the resources
of the Northwest might at any time be crippled. That river was the outlet to the sea
for the great and rapidly expanding Northwest. Through that river and over the Gulf of
Mexico the products of the .Mississippi valley and of the Northwest were to find their way
in market ; and over that river the articles imported into that extended region were to come;
for in those days the railroad system was unknown. Thus, unless the United States pos-
sessed the full control of the outlel to the Mississippi the great Northwesl might be shut
out from the commercial world. Its produce could not he waggoned thousands of miles and
the Alleghany Mountains to tin- sea coast. Therefore the United States Government
boughl Louisiana from France as i1 seventeen years afterward bought Florida from Spain —
the people of New England, Pennsylvania, New York, and every other Northern State
paying their proportion for the purchase as well as those of South Carolina and Virginia. It
was. vim perceive, our property, my fellow-citizens, that those conspirators thus attempted to
transfer t!> a foreign government. We, or our ancestors, bought it, our government being
the agent in the purchase.

Again: there lay contiguous to Louisiana an empire equal to six of the largest States of
the Union. It bounded the gulf whose freedom is so essential to the development of our
country from the Sabine to the Del Norte. It hail been wrested from a neighboring govern-
ment, Mexico, by our own people, who had gone there and settled, and had come to be known
as the State of'fexas. We admitted that Slate into the Union, and that act led to war with
M i ;ico. So that, though we had paid for it in money, by the assumption and extinguishment
of its enormous debt, we paid for it again in the blood of our sons and brothers, shed on the
fields of Mexico. The expenses of t lie Mexican war in blood and treasure were but part of
the [nice the people of the Nation paid for Texas.

Whether the Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of those State*
question to be settled by our armies or by us a1 the coming election. If it is not, why is it
not '. 11 it is not, when and how did il cease to be? '

Wha1 provision does the Constitution make for its own amendment? It provides thai Con

- T, 'r 1 , ";'- v - ''■•' a^o-third vote of each Bouse, propose any , ndmenl which shall b

nutted to the States, and when the Legislatures of three-fourths of the States .hall have
adopted it, or when conventions of those States, having been called fur that purpose, shall to
the number of three-fourths ol the whole aumber of States, have adopted it, then and then
only the amendment shal become part of the Constitution. I do net think that I have slept
as lone as old Rip v an \\ ,nkle did, an,! therefore 1 do nut believe thai the Constitution Ins
been so amended as to relieve the so-called Confederate States from its supreme iuSction
I certainly have neve, heard that Congress, by a two-thirds vote, proposed an^mendment
R?vers Constitution to the north side of the Susquehanna and Ohio

I do not remember that such an amendmenl to the Constitution was ever submitted to the
Legislature of Pennsylvania and adopted by it. If] have slepl through so importanl an
of our history 1 pray some of von to .ell me so . Does any man here knew of the Constitutfon
havingbeen so amended as to allow all .a:. States south of Pennsylvania, Ohio, hnlian a 11
nois, and own. to pass from under it? If do man here knows it, and if ,. Sshed

an agonist canno Melius when ,, bappe 1. I take il for granted thai i, neverlappened and

that the Constitution ol the I mted States is still the supreme law of our whole country
and that when lame, Buchanan and Abraham Lincoln, in the same phraseology before the
same God and people, swore to " preserve, protect, and defend- it. they bound themselves
by oath to maintain its supremacy over every acre of our country. Am I wrong? I think nol
iJ to m f gre? ? + W, ;", M ; " ,SU ;"'' e T ery meta Physical question which my friend might
put to me I agreed to meet him and to discuss the principles and measures of our parties
respectively, and apply those principles to the great issues of the day; hut 1 think thai
demonstrate that our party is standi.,- by the Constitution, the unity, and the the- of the
country .and hat the party which he represents has deliberately a ented to tie. disLmber!
men I the country I shall effectually answer all his questions. Each one. however, shall
receive attention as the discussion progresses.

n Jl!i!:! ,l " reW: ' S « Democratic Administration presiding over the country. The dream of
a Southern empire influenced leading minds of the South at that time. For, gentlemen this
rebehon the conspiracy which is now attempting to dismember ear country and overt?™ itl

I hi la rrTl- K ' :,,U '" t : , i n ° f tW ° S enera tions. It engrossed the besl years of
th. latei hie ol John 0. ( alhoun and his compeers in South Carolina, and seme other of the
^ Ut ^ mS ; ates - n1832 South Carolina determined to show that the State was .'"sovereign,"
and passed an ordinance by which^ she undertook to nullify and se1 at naughl within her
limits a law ol Congress known as a Revenue Law. She assembled what she called a
reign convent ion," and that convention passed an ordinance of nullification. Word was

MtMl1 V' 1 "' II "'" Dem °cratic President, Andrew Jackson, that the ordinance of nullifica
bon had been passed. What did that distinguished Democrat do? Did h "send into Cot
S ress a messa ? e f^g tha1 he had Q0 vi * ht '0 coerce a State? Did he send into Congress a
message saying thai the Constitution of the United States was no1 ample for own So

ion ? dame. Buchanan did thus al a later day, hut Andrew Jackson did quite otherwise lie

;■;;;■;; l^r^V "r ' pl ' e ofthe stat , e - "■»"»*„* n,,,,, of ««*? Z} Z ,.y,,„ .

en 1 7," 1 ' " ,, ; ,l V 1, «'» ,,l ^^\ ! ' ,l ''^»'"«l»'i'-'-''»»trya.i,lils,„ 1 v..: showing how
Heaven had enriched it ; pointing them to the magnificenl growth ofthe countrv under

«!ct^T UlU r\ , l ll, ^' 1h, • ,l, that the People had elected him President and 7tZ on
the inauguration day he had sworn to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution and

^tl»uVV ht ' [ T< 1 ^-^ I* tha/oath should he ^rfed^onetiSiSon
tibienueu, and the laws enforced.

General Wmfield Scott was then thirty-two years younger than he is now; and President
Jackson ordered, him to the ,,h ol Charleston with the army of the United States Be

, M , o^ered the Secretary of the Navy to disengage all the available vessels, and lay them
£ on fi££. co ?^ 1° th^ if South Carolina should undertake to put its foot on th ,i,

. d K ° i 7 ' soverei f b ™n S V'" : , Tha< is What Andrew Jackson did, when the
people ol houth Carolina undertook to show their "sovereignty" by merely tramline on a

rihcr ;::,! 7; 1 " " by ,,:m f ^ r <^^ — fragnfente, epVp™t££X ^ g ount r ;

!:;;: ;:„;.;:;;:;;. ?:?^zzZT eiVen proposing t0 refuud us the »»*> we have e *p ended

Let us briefly contemplate some of the results of their action

Ihe Constitution of the United States provides that -the citizens of each State shall ho
led to all he privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States." 1 am a PhiladeL

; f T 'T h ZV S, ' 1 ;°" 1 ;" 1 he T> ' learnedm y 1™de here. A, I approached manh 1

" ' ' ( - I"?;' !"ni " j^^of one year] was, under the Constitution of the I „
btates, a citizen oi Massachusetts, and as such took part in the Presidential election Yea

my fellow-citizen, were, perhaps, born in New England, or in a Southern State, nnd under the
Constitution of the United States are a citizen of Pennsylvania, and at the coming election
may vole as a citizen. We all have the right, under the Constitution, to become citizens of
Maryland or Virginia — ay, even of South Carolina., if il In' to our taste.

The ( 'oust il nl inn. as we have seen, gives each and every one of us that is a citizen of any
Stale the privileges and immunities of citizenship in Texas, and in every State lying between
her and Pennsylvania. Our money and our blood bought three of them: and as you know
our money has built fortifications and arsenals and custom-houses and post-offices and marine
hospitals, and all other national establishments throughout those States. Will my distin-
guished competitor, I again ask. tell us when and where and how the Constitution, in accord-
ance with its own provisions, was so modified that we are no longer entitled to citizenship in
those Slates, and that the custom-houses, and forts, and arsenals, &c, that we paid for. belong
to a foreign people and government? Is South Carolina part of our country ? Abraham
Lincoln thinks it is, and so do you. Have you never heard of the healthful qualities of the
climate of Florida? You have a side daughter — a fair girl sinking into the consumption;
the disease is developing in her tender system ; the doctors order her to a more genial climate.
You say that you will take her to Florida, where the temperature seldom varies ten degrees,
and where, it is said, the atmosphere is an almost sovereign balm for incipient, consumption. It
is your right to take her there; and I leave it to my distinguished competitor to show by what
clause of the Constitution Jefferson Davis and his armies deny you the exercise of that right.

You, young mechanic, who have no capital but your skill and health — who are tired of
labor in the contracted workshop and of life in the compact city, dream of owning a herd of
cattle upon a broad prairie. Under the Constitution of the United States and the beneficent
legislation of the first "Lincoln Congress" you have a right to go to Texas, or any other
State in which there are public lands, and, under the Homestead law, settle on one hundred
and twenty acres, if you have a wife, or if you are a single man, on eighty acres of the best
land you can find. If you have children, the law gives you one hundred and twenty acres for
yourself and wife, and ten for each of your children. That land in Texas or any other Stale
is yours; all you have to do is to go and settle upon it. Ay, say you. "but Jefferson Davis
won't let me!" That is so; and my patriotic competitor says that President Lincoln is vio-
lating the Constitution by trying to drive Jeff's soldiers out of your way, that you may go and
"walk in glory behind the plough" on your own broad acres.

Where is the power, my laboring friend, to divest your personal interest in the public lands
under the Homestead Law? Where is the power to rob us. American citizens, of the glory
our ancestors achieved on Eutaw's field and Camden's plain? Where is the power to rob us
of the treasure we invested when we acquired Louisiana, Florida, and Texas, and involved
ourselves in the Mexican war?

" Ah ! but," says my friend. " this is.your doings, you Abolitionists and Republicans." Let
us see how that is. 1 ask you. my Democratic townsmen' who was President on the eighth of
February, 18(51, when the Southern Confederacy was organized? Who was Presidenl on the
twenty-first of December, D^r, when South Carolina seceded? Was not .lames Buchanan?
Had he not for his Cabiuc^iowell Cobb, of Georgia, and John B. Floyd, of Virginia, and
Isaac Toucey, of Connecticut, and Jeremiah S. Black, of Pennsylvania, and Jacob Thomp-
son, of Mississippi, and were not they and their associates all Democrats? Was not what
they did the doings of the Democratic party? And did not the party turn out of its ranks
every man who did not stand up for and sanction what the Buchanan administration did?

On the 21st of December, L860, South Carolina passed her ordinance of secession; but she
did not do it until James Buchanan, President of the United States, and the acknowledged
head of the Democratic parly, had announced to the Southern people his belief in their right
l.i secede, and had told every loyal. Union-loving man in the Southern States that, in the event
of his State's seceding, if he dared to hold on to the Union, he must expect no protection
from the National Government, but would be handed over to the tender mercies of his
State or any confederacy that tnighl be built upon the ruins of our Union: and in order to
strengthen this warning, had coupled with his message the opinion of his Attorney-General,
Jeremiah S. Black, sustaining it. That message was sent to Congress three months before
Abraham Lincoln became Presidenl of the United States.

James Buchanan and the Democratic party so understood the Constitution. I do not blame
them. I do not blame the Millerito for his faith, though he does not go up at the expected
time, but still believes that he will go up some time. I do not blame the Mormon, if he is
honest in his faith, though I censure his practices. I do not blame these leaders ofthe Demo-
cratic party fir their faith: they honestly believe that the Constitution of the United Stales
is a rope of sand, and that whenever a State wants to go out of the Union, she can. That
is their faith; they have a righl to it ; but 1 am not willing to let them dissolve the Union
to gratify their vagaries. What 1 complain of IS, that while holding to these baleful
tenets, they humbug masses of their party by uttering delusive phrases about maintaining
and defending the Union and the Constitution. If the leaders of the Northern Democracy
had not believed the doctrines announced by Mr. Buchanan, they would have abandoned him
and his Administration when he sent in his message of the 4th of December, 1860; but, on

the contrary, those members of the party who dissented from Ids new-found faith were kicked
out — Forney, and others aide and brilliant as he, among the number.

Let me demonstrate the truth of ray assertion by reading from the message of James 1 * u -
chanan, communicated to Congress on the 4th of December, I860: —

"The question, fairly stated, is: Has the Constitution delegated to Congress the power to
coerce into submission a State which is attempting to withdraw, or has actually withdrawn,
from the Confederacy? If answered in the affirmative, it must lie on the principle that the
power has been conferred upon Congress to declare and make war against a State. After
much serious reflection, I have arrived at the conclusion that no such power lias been dele-
gated to Congress, or to any other department of the Federal Government. It is manifest,
upon an inspection of the Constitution, that this is not among the specific and enumerated
powers granted to Congress; and it is equally apparent that its exercise is not necessarj and
proper for carrying into execution any one of these powers."

Now. that either was or was not the doctrine of the Democratic party as an organization.
Let us test it. Is not James Buchanan in full faith and communion with the Democratic party
to-day? Does he not support the Chicago platform and nominees? And have not the party
expelled from its ranks every man who dissented from the doctrines and measures of Buchanan
and his Administration?

Accompanying that message of James Buchanan was the opinion of Judge Black, his
Attorney-General, in which that eminent friend of Pendleton and McClellan said: '-If it he
true that war cannot be declared, nor a system of general hostilities carried on by the central
Government against a State, then it seems to follow thai an attempt to do so would lie ipso
facto an expulsion of such State from the Union. Being treated as an alien and an enemy,
she would be compelled to act accordingly. And if Congress shall break up the pi
Union by unconstitutionally putting strife and enmity and armed hostility between different
sections of the country, instead of the 'domestic tranquillity' which the Constitution was
meant to insure, will not all the States be absolved from their Federal obligations? Is any
portion of the people bound to contribute their money or their blood to carry on a contest
like that?"

Now, I say that James Buchanan and Jeremiah S. Black, and the Democratic party of the
North, that sustained them, in the promulgation and support of the message ami opinion from
which 1 make these extracts, served notice on the Union men of Virginia, and Tennessee, and
Missouri, and all the Southern States, to this effect: "If the majority of the people of your
respective Stales want to secede, we will let them; and if you resist them and try to keep
the State in the Union, you do so at your peril, for there is no power in the Constitution to
prevent secession, or under which we can or will protect you." My Democratic friends, is
not that true? Did they not thus invite the dismemberment of your country? Did they not
impel and encourage the Southern conspirators to rob you of more than half of your national
birthrighl '.'

Is the Constitution the supreme law? Did Gen. Jackson understand the doctrines of the
Democratic party when he said, ''The Union must and shall be preserved"? If he did,

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Online LibraryWilliam D. (William Darrah) KelleySpeeches of Hon. William D. Kelley. Replies of the Hon. William D. Kelley to George Northrop, Esq., in the joint debate in the Fourth Congressional District → online text (page 1 of 20)